Thousands more women and children escaping domestic abuse will be supported with housing and specialist services following a landmark investment by the NSW Government.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the Government would invest an additional $484.3 million – the single biggest investment in tackling domestic and family violence (DFV) in the State’s history.
“Everyone has the right to live a life free from violence and abuse, a right that is far too often callously eroded by those who perpetrate domestic violence,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Today’s commitment will help to reduce the often devastating impacts of domestic abuse by providing timely access to safe, affordable and appropriate supports and housing assistance so that women and children who bravely escape violence can begin to recover and thrive.”
The funding package includes:
- $426.6 million over four years to expand Core and Cluster to deliver and operate around 75 extra women’s refuges that support women and children escaping DFV. Under the Core and Cluster model, self-contained accommodation is located next to a ‘core’, which provides access to services including counselling, legal assistance, education, and employment support. The sites contain meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment for court appearances, communal kitchens, and playgrounds.
- $52.5 million over four years towards the Community Housing Innovation Fund (CHIF) partnership with the community housing sector, to provide approximately 200 sustainable, social and affordable housing dwellings for women experiencing DFV.
- $5.2 million over four years, for a trial in two districts to provide dedicated supports for accompanied children and young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with a focus on children and young people impacted by DFV.
Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said DFV is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children, illustrating the high demand for these critical services.
“In 2019-20, almost 40 per cent of the people who accessed specialist homelessness services in NSW, across our cities, regional and rural communities, had experienced domestic abuse,” Mrs Taylor said.
“One of the most important things we can do in government is to ensure that when a victim-survivor makes the courageous decision to leave a violent home – a time when she actually faces the greatest risk – that there’s a secure, supportive environment waiting to help her.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said today’s investment demonstrates the Government’s commitment to support everyone across our diverse communities, especially the most vulnerable.
“This historic investment will support women and children impacted by domestic violence for generations to come by almost doubling the number of women’s refuges across the state – it will not only change lives, it will save lives – and there’s no greater legacy than that,” Mr Kean said.
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said children are often referred to as the ‘silent victims’ of DFV, a term that in reality has acted as a loud, rallying call for the Government’s investment in more housing and more specialist supports for young people.
“In 2019-20, specialist homelessness services supported more than 8,200 children in families experiencing domestic violence. Our trial will help us support 3,200 additional children and young people with trauma informed care and educational supports,” Mr Speakman said.
Chair of Domestic Violence NSW Annabelle Daniel welcomed the Government’s major investment, and acknowledged all the frontline workers and victim-survivors who have been advocating for greater availability of these crucial services.
“We are pleased to see this new funding announcement recognising the urgent need for refuge supports in rural, regional and remote areas and across NSW. Specialist domestic and family violence services are a lifeline for women and children fleeing abuse, and do the work of many agencies combined. We know the numbers of people in need being turned away are continuously increasing due to lack of space. When we raise awareness about domestic and family violence, women raise their hands for help,” Ms Daniel said.
A mother of two young children, Theresa*, was supported by ‘The Orchard’ Core and Cluster accommodation in Orange after she was subjected to severe physical abuse, including strangulation, perpetrated by her partner that forced them to flee the family home.
Theresa* said she was able to stay close to her support network while continuing her children’s schooling and her employment, and was later abl to obtain a private rental and help through Victims Services for furniture and appliances for her new home.
“This support gave me the courage and trust that there was a way out of my situation with a plan that would keep me and my children safe. I have officially escaped domestic violence for good, and can now see the warning signs to be able to stop it instead of putting up with it. I have achieved independence and I am now able to do things without being shut down with intimidation and abuse like I was before,” Theresa* said.
For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63), NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017) or Men's Referral Service (1300 766 491). In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).
*Name changed to protect her identity.